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Every dog has its day, and in the case of the wrongfully accused Romeo Phillion, that day could mean $14 million in damages.

Yesterday, Ontario’s Court of Appeals ruled that Romeo Phillion, a man who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of an Ottawa fireman in 1972, is permitted to move forward with a civil suit against the prosecutors who withheld evidence to ensure his conviction. Phillion served 31 years in jail, the longest period of imprisonment in Canada for a conviction that was eventually quashed.

Back in 1972, the prosecution had an alibi for Phillion, but withheld it from the defence because they’re, you know, evil or something. That’s the negligence that Phillion wants to sue them for, totally sensible grounds for legal action, but he was almost prevented from doing so. Last year, Ontario Supreme Court Justice Eva Frank ruled that Phillion’s lawsuit against the prosecution would be an abuse of process because too much time had passed since the action took place. Yeah, ‘cause that’s how much time you stuck him in jail for!

If putting someone in jail for thirty years isn’t bad enough, preventing them from getting their due justice afterwards because too much time has passed (time they spent in prison because of judicial negligence) is the icing on this cruel, cruel cake. Luckily, Appeal Court Justice Kathryn Feldman saw this brutal irony and chose to make the wrong right:

To in effect punish the appellant for the passage of time in these circumstances by staying his action strikes me as manifestly unfair.

Romeo Phillion is now in his mid-70s, and after the Appeals court decision, Phillion’s lawsuit against his prosecutors is moving forward. 31 years behind bars is a tragedy, one that cannot be undone with any amount of cash. But $14 million is a good start. Freedom is nice, and freedom in a convertible Ferrari is even nicer.


Have fun, Romeo.Darren Brown

Have fun, Romeo.
Darren Brown